Departments of Energy produce long-term plans that are variously called Power Development Plans, National Power Plans or Integrated Resource Plans. These plans are based on forecasts for the amount of electric power that a country will need over the next 10-20 years, and propose a plan for how this need will be met. Elements of the plan include how many new power plants will be built, how much electricity will be imported, how much will come from renewable energy, and how energy efficiency measures can reduce demand. Power Development Plans thus indicate the resource mix that the Department of Energy intends to use to meet demand for electricity, and the amount of funding that will be needed to implement the plan. Total investments can be significant in this capital-intensive sector. Public oversight of these major investments of public resources is critical in a sector that has dramatic impacts on the national economy as well as global and local environmental impacts, public health and quality of life.
The public must have access to these documents in order to understand how power will be supplied, how much is needed, and how much it will cost. Since these documents are technically complex, sufficient time needs to be allowed for analysis. Civil society organizations with the appropriate technical expertise should also have enough time to prepare non-technical presentations and to organize public information forums to explain the plan in terms that can be understood by all citizens.